Thursday, July 28, 2011

And Suddenly, My Life is GREAT by comparison!

Read about a hilarious (I mean, painful)  Million-Dollar Fender Bender

My Kia mini-van is lookin' better by the minute!

**No one was hurt in this mega-collision, thankfully!**

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Isn't that a livestock disease?

My 13 month son, you know, the one who swallows straight pins, or gets the really scary croup-type respiratory infections, or gets a nasty coffee burn because his big brother grabbed my coffee cup, or who's on long-term antibiotics for kidney problems, now has another virus. (Why am I not surprised...)

On Sunday afternoon he spiked a mild fever of 100.4 and he was somewhat irritable. I kept him home from our church's evening service, thinking that he was just teething. On Monday, he had a small rash on his face and thigh, and his fever had gone up to 101.4. I took him to the doctor, thinking that maybe he was allergic to his Sulfatrim. (It's a sulfa drug, which is one of the more allergenic drugs.) The nurse practitioner who saw us said it wasn't a sulfa-allergy rash, but it was probably just some unknown virus that would run its course. My son didn't have an ear infection, no swollen lymph nodes, no strep throat, nothin'. Just some weird fever and a little rash on his cheeks. I'm not the kind of mom who feels like a doc doesn't do her job if we walk out without a prescription, so I went home and resigned myself to the fact that I'd be cooped up for a few days with a sickie baby.

Today he woke up with a fever of 103.6, and the rash was now ALL OVER. I called the advice nurse of our clinic, and told her that I wondered if maybe he was having a bad delayed reaction to his immunizations he got about 10 days ago. She said probably not, but I needed to bring my son back in for another check. So we drove back down to the hospital and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The doctor who was supposed to see us was unavailable, so another doc was taking his patients, and was obviously running late trying to keep up with a double patient load.  My son's appointment was for 3:00, but we didn't even get to a triage room until 3:45. Then, there were no rooms available, so back to the waiting room for another wait. Then to the exam room for yet another wait. It was almost 5:00 before the physician's assistant came in.

He was so awesome!!! And thorough, too. He was definitely worth waiting for. He really listened to me, examined my son head to toe, and even consulted with an M.D. to make sure we got a correct diagnosis.

At first the PA thought my son had actually developed chicken pox from the vaccine he'd recently received. But he wanted to check with a doctor to be sure. But the M.D. explained that my son's rash blisters all looked the same. If it were chicken pox, some blisters would look new, others would be oozing, others would be scabbing. Chicken pox blisters tend to spread from the head down toward the toe, but my son's rash is the same all over. He's got a swollen ear drum, but not really an infection per se. He's also got a few blisters in his mouth, but not a strep infection.

After careful consideration, the PA and M.D. think my kid has Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Ewwwww. Really?

Seriously, I thought that was some kind of weird mange that farm animals get.

(They "think" it's hand foot and mouth disease, because he doesn't have any blisters on the palms of his hands or the bottoms of his feet. He's got a few blisters on his ankles and wrists though.)

They explained the disease to me, that it's a virus that is spread through the respiratory system. It's not spread from animals to humans. Once you have it, you'll never get it again. (What a relief!) It's highly contagious, so I also need to monitor my 2 1/2 year old.

I have no idea where he caught hand foot and mouth disease. No one that we know has been sick lately. The PA said it could have come from the mall, there's really no way to know for sure. Since the virus is airborne, someone could have sneezed and my kid caught it. (Great...isn't that how Ebola spreads too?)

But now I feel really paranoid that my kid was in the church nursery on Sunday morning. He was obviously incubating this virus, and highly contagious. He might pass this crud onto every other baby at church.

Oh man, what a guilt trip that's gonna be...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kidney Update

We went to the urologist yesterday to discuss the VCUG and renal scan.

His right (good) kidney is doing 56% of the work, and his left (duplex) kidney is doing 44%. That's acceptable.

He has some damage to his bad kidney, but there is really no way to know if it's congenital or caused by his reflux.

The plan of action for now is to keep him on a low-dose antibiotic (Sulfatrim) to prevent any UTI's and not stress out that kidney any more than necessary. We'll go back for another VCUG and renal scan in one year to see how he's progressing. Hopefully he'll grow into his extra, kinked-up ureter (right now it's still too long), although the reflux will always be an issue. Then, depending on the test results, surgery may be an option.

Deflux is a gel that the urologist injects into the wall of the bladder to make a "bump" that works like a valve to keep urine from flowing back up into the ureter. It's done endoscopically. My baby's urologist would treat all his ureters, because he says oftentimes a good ureter will start to reflux once the "bad" one is treated.

I have some questions about this that I'll want to discuss if this is the treatment option he chooses. First, does this gel eventually get absorbed into the body, requiring extra treatment later? Second, will the "bump" seem smaller as he and his ureters and bladder grow? Will more deflux gel need to be injected as he grows? Third, this "bump" seems to narrow the ureter opening into the bladder. Will this narrowing cause the ureter to drain into the bladder more slowly?

If you or your children have had this procedure done, how has it worked for you? What was the recovery time? Are you happy with the long-term relief? I'd love to hear from anyone with insight into this treatment!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Children's Growth Charts

I took my one-year old for his yearly physical and shots yesterday. The doctor is concerned because he "only" weighs 21 lbs. I need to bring him back in September for another weight check. I was a little miffed at that.

First, I pride myself on being a good Mom. (Not one is.) I feed my kids well. Veggies are a struggle, but we're getting there. Maybe I was being a little sensitive, but the doctor made me feel like I was not feeding my kids enough. Hogwash!! My kids are already eating me out of house and home!

Second, how often do children's growth charts get updated? Because my older boy weighed 20 lbs. when he turned 1, and no doctor ever mentioned concern over his weight.

Third, I recently read an article that said nearly 1 in 3 American infants under the age of 9 months are now considered OBESE!! Read about it here: Chubby Babies Are Actually Obese That breaks my heart. I am really struggling to hold back my anger at the parents who constantly feed their crying babies instead of getting to the heart of the problem of why their babies might be crying (discomfort, fatigue, etc.) These chunky kids are throwing off the growth charts for "normal" kids who are of a healthy weight. So now if you have a healthy, active kid who is eating and drinking normally, the fatties are making them look too thin and malnourished on the growth charts. That sounds harsh, I know.

Please don't interpret my rant to imply that all babies need to be of a certain shape. I know God created all of us with unique features and metabolisms. What I mean is that parents who shove a bottle in their kids' mouths every time they cry, or parents who give their kids soda, or parents who think that their kids are getting an adequate intake of veggies when they serve French fries are setting their kids up for a lifelong struggle with food issues. They may soothe their emotional pain with food, or they may develop a food addiction, or they may never learn to love natural fruits and veggies that are chock-ful of the vitamins and minerals needed for proper development. It's not just weight issues here--it's health and self-esteem problems too.

Am I supposed to let my baby gorge himself on sugary sweets and juices so he can fatten up like the rest of his peers? Or should I pride myself on the fact that I am trying to raise a healthy boy with good eating habits and a love for physical activity, even if it means his weight statistics seem "too skinny" on a growth chart?

Doctors, please don't base your medical evaluation solely on a piece of paper with growth curves on it. Look at the WHOLE child. Is he physically active, is he developing mentally, is he happy, is he strong? Is he otherwise healthy? I know doctors are trained to take care of the physical body, and I am truly grateful for the education you've received. But please don't put too much emphasis on a growth chart--it's a more complicated issue than that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My baby girl's AP test scores arrived

I know, I know---you all are so tired of hearing me brag about my daughter's numerous accomplishments. All I ever do is gush over how great and marvelous she is, yadda yadda. But bear with me as I share some wonderfully good news!

Her AP test scores arrived today:

World History--4 (5 is the highest grade)
Art History--4
English Language/Composition--4

Spanish grades are still being processed. We don't know when they'll be here, but my daughter is not optomistic that she passed it. She said the oral part went too fast for her to comprehend, and the essay section was about enviornmental issues that she doesn't have a strong vocabulary for. Even if she fails the Spanish test, she'll still have passed 4 AP tests (she passed her US History test last year), which translates in 4 classes of college credit.

Join me in congratulating her. She worked soooooo very hard last year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update on the metal object in my kid's stomach

I took my 13-month-old to the hospital yesterday for an x-ray to see if whatever he swallowed last week is moving through his system.

It hasn't moved at all. It's in the exact same place that it was when we discovered it on Friday. Is that weird? It scares me a little. (A lot, actually.)

On Thursday I'll take him back for another x-ray. Friday he's got a well-baby appointment anyway, and I'll discuss the results with his primary doctor.

Yesterday's x-ray was very clear, and I am becoming more convinced that he swallowed the pin to a watchband. I am worried about it sticking him as it goes through his digestive tract.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Spiritual Lesson From Friday's Adventure

I had to help restrain my son when the nurses were struggling over and over to get his IV started. He fought and screamed and flailed about, trying to get free from the strange ladies who were trying to poke that painful needle into his hands and arms.

While I held him tight, I started to sing quietly in his ear. Even though he was still obviously uncomfortable, he calmed down quite a bit and relaxed some. He was distracted by my voice, and he wasn't focused so much on the medical procedures happening to him. It made the nurses job a lot easier. In fact, one of them said, "Wow, Mom, that's great!"

The Lord revealed a great spiritual lesson to me through that experience.

Sometimes, life here on Earth really hurts. Sometimes the hurting is for our own good. God needs to do some spiritual surgery on our souls, but the pain is still very real. Necessary, but still painful.

If we stop focusing on the pain, and just look to the Lord, He will help us get through it.

I can hear the spiritual conversation:

"Father, this hurts! Why are you letting this happen to me?"

"I know it hurts, child. But it's for your good. You'll understand it later."
"But it really hurts bad!"

"Don't focus on what's happening, it's too painful and you don't understand why you're going through it. Just look at Me instead. Pay attention to My voice. Listen to My song. Let me give you My peace."

"Okay, I'll try."

"You're going to be all right, child. It'll be over soon."

My prayer:  Lord, help me to realize that today's pain is only temporary. You are working everything out for my spiritual good. I might not understand why it hurts, but I trust that You know what's best for me. Help me to stay focused on You and the song You're singing to me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Our trip to Children's Hospital

Our one-year old son had more kidney tests yesterday. We traveled more than 100 miles up to Children's Hospital. We left at 6:30 in the morning, and we hit rush-hour traffic. (I'm so glad we don't live in a big city, even though I sometimes miss all the fun things to do that a big city offers. The trade-offs with the bad traffic jams and road construction just aren't worth it.)

Did I mention in a previous post just how awesome this hospital is? It's soooooooooo clean, and the staff are very particular about taking care of the kids' needs first and foremost. For instance, they don't allow any latex balloons AT ALL in the hospital, in case any kid who might have a latex allergy gets a hold of one. They only allow the mylar balloons there. No siblings under the age of 12 are allowed to visit during flu season, because they want to keep the risk of infections to a minimum. They know that many of the kids there are having tests done which require a fluid/food fast, so they don't let anyone have any snacks or drinks in the waiting rooms so that the "hungry kids" aren't any more uncomfortable than necessary. Everything there is kid friendly, too. There is a massive train set that the kids can control with the push of a button. TVs are down on floor-level, enclosed in plexi-glass. Birds in big birdcages and lots of aquariums with saltwater fish decorate the lobbies and waiting rooms. I'm just sayin', this place is COOL!! There are lots of wagons you can borrow to haul your kids and all their kiddo stuff around, too.

When we first arrived, we went through patient registration, just like always. We sat with a patient liaison officer who verifed our insurance and made sure we paid our $12 copay. (Let me just right now praise the Lord God Almighty for His providence in giving us such a low-cost health insurance plan.)

Then we signed into the radiology department. We were early, but there were toys to play with, and it was okay for our son to run around with my Honey in the big fun lobby. Even though we were still early, the receptionist still called back to see what the "holdup" was with getting us started with his appointment.

Then the torture began.

First up was the VCUG, where they put a liquid dye up into his bladder through a catheter. Then they took a picture of how it flowed, then doused his hiney with warm water to make him pee it all back out. He had to be restrained by three people to get a clear picture, and he screamed and fought through the whole thing. The picture showed a definite reflux from his bladder all the way back up into the lower pole of his duplex kidney. I mean, that kidney was completely saturated! And his ureter was swollen and kinked. My heart broke to see it! They let him up off the table for 10 minutes so that the kidney would have a chance to drain back out. Then back onto the table, this time REALLY screaming and fighting, to get another picture and see if it drained out any at all. Then they took out the catheter and sent us to get ready for the DTAP with Lasix test.

An odd thing happened while they were taking his pictures though. The radiologist asked me, "Has your son ever had any kind of surgery?" I answered no. He then informed me that my son had swallowed a foreign, metallic-based object. He showed me the picture, and there was a straight metal object in my kid's stomach! We can't figure out what he swallowed, and I'm a bit nervous about it. The radiologist said I need to get his abdomen x-rayed early next week to make sure it's passing through okay. I have no idea what it is, but my friend who works at the army post where we see our primary doctor is going to put in an order for x-rays so I can bypass all the red tape of going through the regular clinic to get an x-ray done. From the picture, it looks like he might have swallowed a small-headed screw, or maybe the pin from a watch band. I am worried about it going through all the way without hurting my son. And I just have absolutely NO IDEA what he ate, and the not knowing is scary!!

He had to have an IV for the next test. Last time, a nurse got his IV started the first try. It was great! Not this time.  It took four different nurses three tries to get an IV line going. They kept hitting a valve, or his veins kept rolling. It was heartbreaking!! But the blessing in disguise was that he was absolutely exhausted from all the fighting and screaming so that he slept through most of the DTAP test.

The DTAP test in the nuclear medicine room is the same test he had back in December. A catheter is inserted into his bladder (why they just didn't keep the same one from the VCUG test is beyond me...) A radioactive tracer is inserted into his IV so that it can be traced through the kidneys. Lasix (a diuretic) is pushed through the IV about 30 minutes later to help push everything through and trace how it leaves the body. The whole test takes an hour, and the patient is strapped into a papoose on a table for the whole time. The tech who did the test for us last time did it again for us yesterday. He remembered that our son really likes Baby Einstein, so he had a video ready for him to watch already when we arrived. (Did I mention how awesome everyone is at this hospital?!)

Before we left, we got all the tests' images put onto a CD for us. Just in case the computer network is down and the urologist's staff can't retrieve the info when we go to discuss the tests, we'll still have a hard copy they can refer to.

We got back home shortly before 5:00 yesterday afternoon. Everyone was exhausted. We all went to bed around 8:30, and slept hard until 7:00 this morning. Even our 2 year-old, who stayed home with big sister, didn't have a nap yesterday and slept hard too.

Based on my Internet research, it looks like most urologists prefer to treat my son's condition medically (with low-dose preventative antibiotics) to prevent recurrent kidney/bladder infections before they resort to corrective surgery. Every time we have more tests done, I am more reassured that we have great medical care for our family. That is a wonderful blessing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth of July Adventures

We celebrated our country's birthday twice this year. The first time we went to a fireworks show on our military base.We had a GREAT time. We found a grassy spot where no one else was. A few other families came later, but they were all sweet people, no smoking or cussing. We could only sort of hear the band play, which was a good thing. It was a cover band for a singer who has a bit of profanity in his songs. It was nice to not have it blaring in our ears. But the best part was just hanging out with the family before the fireworks. We brought a special treat for the boys--cheese puffs. We had a cheese puff and ice water picnic on a blanket, which was the sort of simple fun my heart loves most. A thunderstorm had passed by earlier in the afternoon, so there was a nice clean, cool breeze that made the weather pretty perfect.

Last year, our now 2 y.o. was terrified of the booms of the fireworks. So we warned him this year that fireworks are loud, but they're pretty to see. He was sooooo scared, I mean shaking and trembling with fear, when the fireworks started. He didn't calm down either, so I took him to the van (which was very close by, thankfully). We sat in the van, blared some classical music to drown the outside booming, and snuggled until he calmed down. Then I gradually rolled down the window so he could get used to the noise again. After a few minutes, we ventured outside again, and he did fine. He held onto me super tight, but he wasn't crying anymore. There were some "happy face" fireworks that he really liked.

The next day, my son talked nonstop about the fireworks. He sounded like a broken record: "Mommy, fireworks loud? Make too much noise? Scared? Happy face fireworks? Go to the van?" But curiously, he asked several times to see more fireworks. We told him that we'd go again soon.

The second time we saw fireworks was at our local town's yearly extravaganza. This time wasn't as nice as the experience on the military base. It was hot and crowded, with LOTS of smokers clogging up the air. Kids were running around unattended, which scares the daylights out of me. (Maybe I'm uber-paranoid of kidnappers.) The fireworks weren't shot off from where we thought they'd be, so we didn't have a good spot. We had to stand up for the whole show, but it didn't even last half as long as the previous show we saw on post. My 2 y.o. still screamed through about half the show, but he calmed down as long as I held onto him tight. He didn't want to watch the fireworks this time, he just buried his head into my neck. (Poor little man gets soooooo scared sometimes! It's heart-breaking.)

I think we'll just stick to the military fireworks from now on. I had always thought that nothing could compare to the fireworks that the military could do, and now I have experienced it to be true.

If you live close to a military base, most open up to nonmilitary visitors for their July 4th celebrations. I encourage you to see their fireworks show. They're great!